It’s officially braid season! Thank the Lord. Because as much as I love my signature Diana Ross ‘fro, nothing makes me more excited than 3 full months of braids and twists to give my hair a break. They are great protective style options and with the heat that we experience in the summer, they’re the best and easiest option for the weather that’s ahead. As great and simple as braids and twists are, they still require a certain amount of maintenance for upkeep of the style and your natural hair. Here are four important tips for making your braids last:
Protect them at night with a silk scarf or bonnet
This may seem like the obvious, but I am surprised at the number of people who do not follow this rule - and then are pissed when they have to shell out $150 to get their braids redone after only a few weeks. The silk scarf protects your hair from wild sleeping at night, manages frizz, and maintains the appearance of your braids while keeping your roots intact. My stylists recommends using a silk scarf to tie your hair down at night, because braids are usually longer in length than other styles. But, there are now braid bonnets available for purchase that are large enough to contain your braids at night. For me personally, a silk scarf is still easier to use but the bonnets are a good option as well. Wrapping your hair at night will keep your hair looking fresh and durable.
Wearing your hair down or in a bun everyday is boring, I know. The good thing about braids and twists is that they allow for versatility - but too much manipulation can loosen up the braids sooner than they should. The point of braids and twists, aside from style, is that they are meant to be a protective style option. If you’re pinning, twisting, and doing too many styles with your braids, they can have an adverse effect. Not only does overstyling give you less time with your braids and twists, it can also damage your natural hair in the process. Your braids or twists are styles in themselves, so keep the styling to a minimum.
You don’t have to run to your stylist every four weeks for completely new braids. The braids or twists around your edge and the front and back of your hair are normally the ones that look a little more rough and in need of sooner upkeep. The ones in the middle are not as exposed or affected by styling, so they tend to look newer, longer. Get a touch up on a few rows in the front, sides, and back of your hair before you do away with them all. It’ll save you time and money.
Make sure the style matches your hair texture
The beauty of braids and twists is that they mirror your natural hair...or at least they should. As with weaves, you can choose a texture or style that’s completely different than your natural hair. There’s a meme that was floating around social media that read, “How do you have Indian bundles with African roots?” As harsh as that may read, its true, and applies to all weaved styles. Those of us with natural hair who have had braid and twist disasters know! Coarse or kinkier textured hair won’t be as durable with certain widths of box braids, because the width of the braid matching your natural hair is essential for it to last. The same can be said for those with silkier textured hair - marley twists won’t work because they won’t hold properly...in other words, your natural hair will come out of the twists. Just because we like the style, doesn’t mean it will work with us because all of our hair is different, natural or not. If your stylist suggests a certain braid or twist style for you, take his/her advice.